The "ICE Out of Woodburn" rally, organized by immigrant rights nonprofits Voz Hispana Cambio Comunitario and Milenio drew a crowd of about 70 Monday evening. The rally, which took place at the Woodburn Memorial Transit Center, addressed recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests that have taken place both in and near Woodburn.
Attendees held up signs and shouted chants like "La gente unida jamas sera vencida" ("People united will never be defeated") and "No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA," at passing cars.
According to event organizers Maricela Vidal Gonzalez, Ramiro Ramos Lopez and Michelle Loeza, the event's main goals were to address the current climate of fear in the Woodburn immigrant community and to empower Woodburn's immigrant residents.
"Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents continues (sic) their campaign of terror in Woodburn," reads the event's Facebook page. "ICE agents are leaving children without their parents, ICE agents are terrorizing neighborhoods, ICE agents are terrorizing businesses, and ICE agents are creating an environment of fear."
Vidal Gonzalez, Ramos Lopez and Michelle Loeza are all graduates of the Academy of International Studies and are current students at Chemeketa Community College.
For the organizers, the ICE arrests have had a personal effect. Ramos Ramirez is the child of immigrants, Vidal Gomez is a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and Michelle Loeza's father, Saul Loeza, was detained by ICE agents last month.
Saul Loeza has since been released, but his arrest was the first publicized ICE detention to take place in Woodburn following the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Michelle Loeza said she's seen a tangible change in the Woodburn community since the recent ICE arrests began.
"Downtown Woodburn is not the same anymore," Michelle Loeza said. "There's not a lot of people like there used to be, families walking, kids going to the park, going to stores. … A lot of people aren't going out because of the fear that they have that they can get pulled over."
The organizers said they wanted to address that fear, but also to tell immigrants living in Woodburn that they're not alone.
"We just want to provide a safer environment for anybody who's trying to reach a better life here in America," Ramos Lopez said. "We want to make sure nobody feels threatened by ICE agents and we want to let the ICE agents know that what they're doing is traumatizing."
Vidal Gonzalez said the idea for the rally came about after the three students attended the ICE Out of Oregon rally on March 6, which took place outside of the ICE office in downtown Portland. Vidal Gonzalez connected with Juan Rogel, who is executive director of Milenio, about organizing a similar rally in Woodburn.
Rogel said the rally was an opportunity for the nonprofits to educate and conduct outreach in the Woodburn community.
"We want to create a dialogue and let people know if Woodburn needs an intervention from different groups that they can count on us," Rogel said.